Staging prostate cancer after its diagnosis helps to describe the extent of the disease and is utilized to guide the treatment plan and forecast the patient’s prognosis. Understanding the four stages of prostate cancer is a valuable tool for both the physician and the patient.
The TNM System Of Staging
The TNM is a standard system of staging most cancers. It helps patients understand if or how far cancer has spread in their body and how advanced it may be when diagnosed. It uses ratings from stage 1 to stage 4 to describe how advanced your cancer is.
- T stands for the tumor and reflects its size and its extent.
- N stands for nodes. This tells us how many and which lymph nodes the cancer may have spread.
- M stands for metastasis. This indicates where and into what organs the cancer has spread.
Stage 1 Of Prostate Cancer
If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer at stage 1, this means your cancer is small and hasn’t spread beyond the prostate gland. It may mean the tumor cannot be seen, is slow growing, and involves only one side or less of the prostate.
This would be the same for all types of cancers and wherever the cancer begins. If it remains in the origin it would stage 1.
The good news is that stage 1 prostate cancer has a 5 year survival rate of 100%.
Stage 2 Prostate Cancer
This stage indicates the tumor is found only in the prostate. The tumor is small, but there may be risks it will grow and spread.
This stage has levels of A, B, and C which indicate the tumor still remains only in the prostate, but each increasing letter provides more information like if the cancer cells are well differentiated and if the tumor is large enough to be felt during a DRE or digital rectal examination.
Stage 3 Prostate Cancer
In stage 3 the cancer is growing and PSA levels are high. These signs indicate an advanced cancer likely to grow and spread.
The A,B, and C levels stipulate the cancer has spread beyond the outer layer of the prostate and into nearby tissue. It also may have spread to the bladder or rectum.
Stage 4 Prostate Cancer
This 4th stage is the most serious where the cancer has spread beyond the prostate. It may have spread to the nearby lymph nodes, distant nodes, other parts of the body or bones.
Prostate cancer staging is complex involving many factors including PSA levels. It is best to ask questions about any suggested treatment based on prostate staging.